Magazines often show side-by-side comparisons of high-price ensembles next to far less expensive versions to help shoppers find something to suit their tastes and budgets.
The same concept can be applied to balancing your calorie budget smartly at meal time when you’re trying to cut back on consumption but still crave foods with flair.
If weight control is your goal, why not get to know and love the style of eating that delivers on flavor and nutrition without the waist-widening price tags?
Know the limits
Think of blue cheese and bacon crumbles as accessories for your plate. They add flavor and flair to a dish, but too much just piles on unnecessary fat and calories.
When you’re dining out, it’s not necessary to totally avoid the butter, gravy, cheese sauce and full-fat salad dressings; just learn to accessorize sensibly. Note that even olive oil, which is a heart-healthy fat, still carries a sizable caloric tag. So go easy on dipping bread into those little bowls of olive oil. Because the bread acts like a sponge, you can easily soak up several hundred calories’ worth of oil before you even finish reading the menu. Oil, cream and butter-based sauces are what dietitians call “energy dense” —- they pack a lot of calories per ounce. Balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, tomato-based sauces, broths and salsas are nearly calorie-free and can be used liberally.
So, if it’s a punch of flavor you’re looking for to liven up a salad or grilled chicken and fish, learn to identify ingredients, sauces and sides that perk things up while keeping calorie counts down.
Olive oil, 2 tablespoons: 240 calories, 28 grams fat
Butter, 2 tablespoons: 216 calories, 24 grams fat
Hollandaise sauce, 2 tablespoons: 135 calories, 14 grams fat
Mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons: 200 calories, 22 grams fat
Pesto sauce, 2 tablespoons: 155 calories, 15 grams fat
Tartar sauce, 2 tablespoons: 140 calories, 16 grams fat
Cheddar cheese slice, 1 ounce: 114 calories, 9 grams fat
Mexican queso cheese sauce, 2 tablespoons: 100 calories, 8 grams fat
Cream cheese, 2 tablespoons: 100 calories, 10 grams fat
Blue cheese crumbles, 2 tablespoons: 60 calories, 5 grams fat
Cheese sauce, 2 tablespoons: 60 calories, 4 grams fat
Sour cream, 2 tablespoons: 52 calories, 5 grams fat
Shredded cheese, 2 tablespoons: 50 calories, 4 grams fat
Bacon crumbles, 2 tablespoons: 50 calories, 3 grams fat
Vinegars: No calories or fat
Lemon or lime juice: No calories or fat
Salsas, 2 tablespoons: 10 calories, no fat
Picante sauce, 2 tablespoons: 10 calories, no fat
Red wine reduction sauce, 2 tablespoons: 10 calories, no fat (made without butter)
Horseradish, 2 tablespoons: 10 calories, no fat
Tomato-based sauces, 2 tablespoons: 14 calories, no fat (without olive oil in recipe)
Mustards, 2 tablespoons: 15 calories, 1 gram fat
Apple butter, 1 tablespoon: 20 calories, no fat
Steak sauce, 2 tablespoons: 30 calories, no fat
Barbecue sauce, 2 tablespoons: 30 calories, no fat
Cocktail sauce, 2 tablespoons: 30 calories, no fat
Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and co-authorof “The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org